Freezable dishes that are remain tasty after re-heating
After a long day of working, I'm usually too tired or too lazy to cook. So I was wondering if anyone has good recipes that I can make on the weekends, then freeze in small batches. It should be something that I can easily re-heat and still taste good after the freezing. Is this possible with vegetable dishes? How about seafood dishes? Thanks
I recommend a book on make ahead meals. I have read a few and gotten great suggestions.
The vegetables should be undercooked, because they will continue to cook as they cool and after you reheat. As to seafood, I have frozen cod chowder and the fish gets rubbery. I would stay away from seafood unless someone has a better sugestion on how to do it.
Some things that I enjoy making are: Vegetable soup, lasagna, stuffed peppers, rice and beans & chili.
This is not a recipe per se, but my old roommate used to make a huge batch of rice, let it cool, and then wrap it into individual servings with plastic wrap to freeze. That way whenever she wanted rice to go with anything it would take just a minute in the microwave - and no washing the burnt rice off the bottom of the pan!
A note: in my experience freezing stews - the meat always comes off fine, carrots are reasonably ok, but things like potatoes and parsnips really deteriorate and take on the most unpleasant texture. I think bean and lentil stews, with carrots and celery for example, would survive the best if you are not that into meat.
I wish I could add something more positive here, but freezing most things- doubles or triples cooking times. To me, freezing looses any advantage over quick to make fresh tasting meals.
This is what most personal chefs do, although I now concentrate on fresh food for my clients. There are many things that freeze well, and what you want to concentrate on are things with sauces. The sauce is what helps 'pad' the protein.
Rice, vegetables, pasta all freeze well. It's very simple, and thickeners also play an important role. Some thickeners don't do well being frozen and reheated, like cornstarch. Flour, arrowroot and rice flour are all excellent to use.
Italian especially does well freezing, as do soups, stews and casseroles. What doesn't freeze is mayonnaise based things.
Make sure everything is well thawed out before heating again, and do it in the fridge for two days. Sometimes dense stuff takes three days to thaw. If it is cooked, you don't have to worry for four days with it being thawed. Seafood is the exception, unless it's in a stew.
Things with a fairly high fat content freeze very well, as do broths. The most important thing about freezing most things, especially cooked dishes, is to keep air away from the surfaces. If I can, I'll put stuff into a Ziplock bag and squeeze all the air out before closing it. If it's in a rigid container I'll lay Saran wrap over the surface and press it down. In the case of chicken broth, I'll degrease it and reserve the fat, then pour a thick layer of that over the top and refrigerate it until it's cold and the fat hardened, then freeze it. The broth will usually expand and crack the fat, but by then it's frozen and won't dry out.
What I want to get is one of those vacuum-sealer food saver doodads - Target has a simple one for about $40. With those, you can not only safely freeze about anything, but you can reheat it from frozen by dropping the bag into boiling water. Didn't get one for Christmas, but there's always my birthday...
Potatoes don't freeze well. If your soup or stew calls for them, make it without and add them when you defrost.
I'd take a spin on personalcheffie's comment. I have cooked a week's worth of meals for the last four couple friends of ours when they've had babies. I made them meals that all kept fine in the fridge for a week and were easily reheated, but not frozen. It took me an afternoon to put their menus together and I tossed in a bottle of homemade salad dressing and a box of nice mixed greens as well as some homemade rolls. All went in the fridge, not the freezer, and did just fine. You might think in terms of cooking on a Saturday or Sunday for the week ahead and just putting your items in the fridge rather than freezing them.
Soups generally freeze pretty well, particularly chili. I'd agree with the comments about refridgerating vs freezing. In many cases, you can keep something in the fridge for at least a few days and it'll be fine.
I'm going back to work soon (boo hoo!) after being on maternity leave, so tomorrow I plan to spend the day cooking things that can be frozen in small portions.
First on my list is brisket. In addition to my 3 month old, I also have a 2 year old and she loves this. It freezes really well and it's easy to pull out a portion a day ahead and have something ready for her for dinner when I get home.
Meatloaf too. I make it and freeze it in individual slices. My husband doesn't like it, so I can pull out a slice or 2 at a time for me and my daughter.
Another thing that I am going to prepare tomorrow is chicken burgers. I make them with ground chicken (I hate ground turkey) and a bunch of asian ingredients. I mix up the ingredients, and then freeze the "mixture" without cooking it. When I'm ready to make them, I pull them out a day in advance and all I have to do is form the patties and cook them on the stove in a pan. If you'd like the recipe, I'd be happy to post it.
The recipe is from Cooking Light. I've had it torn out since it originally ran, but now I found it on-line.
Just a few of my observations...
I don't really think it needs the peanut sauce, but my husband thinks that's the best part. This recipe is pretty forgiving too. I've made it a million times so I don' even measure anything anymore and it always comes out fine. I use Sambal Oelek for the chili paste. I mix everything by hand and I never use a food processor. And since I live in a Manhattan apartment, I just cook them in a pan on the stove.
Let me know if you make (and hopefully enjoy) them!
I always have a couple of stocks and soups in the freezer, and frequently pasta sauces. Right now there's sauce Bolognese which freezes very well, beef stock and chicken soup.
I tend to use fresh ingredients to finish the dishes off.